Sunday, October 15, 2017

It is a pity. Too late for Singapore to ever be a real democracy

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I think it may be too late. Singapore may never be a real democracy. And its people may never enjoy the freedoms that one would naturally expect in  America or Western Europe.

First of all we have to agree that democracy is a good thing. I do. It is a system which as far as possible leave people alone to develop your full potential. The state only interferes if you harm others unlike in a dictatorship like Singapore where the state punishes you if you espouse ideas not to their liking. Democracies believe that the engine for change and betterment is the people while in dictatorships like Singapore it is the dictator who decides how you live.

For a country to be a real democracy, its government must accept that democracy is a good thing and consequently the State should create the necessary institutions to enable it. Take USA as an example. USA from its inception embraced democracy as the best form of government, created a constitution to enable it, and actively ensured that its provisions are obeyed, through the deliberate setting up of civil society, the rule of law, a free press and fundamental human rights. This is the case too in Western Europe, Canada Australia and New Zealand.

In Singapore on the other hand, since its inception more than 50 years ago, the government has deliberately and progressively sustained its policy of denying a free society. The rule of law is maligned with corrupt judges beholden to the government and used as tool to silence dissent, the papers are state controlled and have become an instrument of state propaganda, all freedoms are denied and anyone criticizing openly is liable to arrest and imprisonment. Although Singapore derived its political system from England, it deliberately suppressed any part of it that relates to democracy.

Under such circumstances unless the people are themselves aware of the need for democracy and are willing to stand up to this dictatorial government, there is no way that the system will ever change, mainly because people in a place such as Singapore, over years of behavior training by the government, are not even aware of what democracy means. And if they don't know what democracy is, how does anyone expect the people to fight for it or the society to become democratic?

Those who did not wish to live in a society like this Singaporean dictatorship have mostly left the island for settlement in the West. I too did not want to be a "digit" under Lee Kuan Yew's Singapore, as he once called the ordinary Singaporean. So I left. As a result over the years, the island has been depleted of people who know what it is to live in freedom. The education system in the island makes sure that students are never taught anything of Constitutional law or democracy. As a result they go through an entire school life not knowing anything about democracy, a topic which is almost taboo. In order to replenish those who have left the island seeking freedom, Singapore government continues to bring in large numbers of immigrants and offer them instant citizenship. Their main source for the immigration as expected is Communist China since the government knows that these Chinese from Communist China don't have a clue as to what freedom is, and would be quite content to live without any rights in Singapore, as they did in Communist China.

Unfortunately this does not prevent many immigrants from other countries such as Australians or some Europeans of coming to Singapore to work which they do just for a living. By and large these immigrants who don't really consider Singapore home would be willing to work anywhere regardless of the political system, since all they want is a job temporarily. As soon as they manage to get a job back home, they leave, as do the thousands of workers who work in Dubai.

Therefore as time progresses , with more and more people with any idea of democracy leaving and those left behind are totally unaware of freedom while supplemented with hoards of Chinese nationals quite happy to live under any dictator, I think it a little too late for the island to ever be free.

My observation of the ordinary man is that he does not necessarily have any desire for such imaginary concepts as freedom. Most people usually just want a job and be able to live a comfortable life and be left alone. This is why until and unless the state appreciates that democracy is a good thing and actively works to towards creating a free society, there is no real hope that people would ever know what it is to be free. For instance you cannot expect Syria, Egypt the  Congo and all the hundreds of countries around the world to have true freedom if the basics for it, unless created and championed by their rulers, do not exist.

One will clearly see why an American thinks very differently from a man from Singapore. Its because  he is taught and is aware that he has a right to the rule of law, freedom of speech expression and assembly. Which is why an American would be outraged and aghast if you told him that judges would use their office to eliminate opponents of the ruling party like they do in Singapore; or if they were told that they have no right to freedom of expression as is the case in Singapore. On the other hand in Singapore the government routinely uses their judges to abuse their judicial office to eliminate political opponents but yet most Singaporeans have no complaints whatsoever to this abuse going on. Neither does the average Singaporean complain about the fact that he has no rights at all.

In the end, it is the state itself that has to take the effort to promote democracy. If they don't, like what we have in Singapore, it will never be free and its people can never live free and independent lives. They will always be at the mercy of the Lee family and their dictatorship. You are creating in Singapore a robotic society whose only goal in life to be able to work and go about their own business with the blessing of the all embracing ever watchful Big Brother.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
A Singaporean in Exile
Fremont San Francisco California USA
Tel: 510 491 8525

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